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Park Grants Georgetown Canal Boat Stay Of Execution

Boat in dry dock
The Georgetown in dry dock. Photo by Lisa Hendrick.
March 8, 2012

National Park Service has delayed demolition of The Georgetown, the replica boat which cruised the C&O Canal for many years in Georgetown. The park service suspended operation of The Georgetown in 2011.

Speaking at the C&O Canal Association's annual meeting, Kevin Brandt, superintendent of the C&O Canal National HIstorical Park, said he has been in discussions with the Georgetown Business Improvement District (BID) about restoring canal boat operations. The BID would subsidize the operations.

Structural problems prohibit The Georgetown from operating again. A replacement boat could cost $1.5 million. Georgetown BID officials have asked the park service to leave The Georgetown in place on its dry dock for awhile so prospective supporters can see what a canal boat looks like.

Mule-drawn canal boat operations will continue at Great Falls. The Charles F. Mercer, a replica, double-decked, canal packet boat, entered service in 2006. Friends of Historic Great Falls Tavern led the fund-raising effort, which resulted in the construction of the Mercer.

Eventually park officials plan to offer free interpretive boat rides in Georgetown, using electrically prowered 30-foot launch boats. These launch boats are modeled after similar craft which operated on the canal in the late 19th and early 20th century. Park officials had hoped to start launch operations in 2013 after removal ofl The Georgetown. The current Federal budget sequestration would likely prevent the start of operations this year.  

The park service began offering launch boat rides in Williamsport, MD in May 2012. For information on the launch boat rides, visit the park website, http://www.nps.gov/choh/planyourvisit/publicboatrides.htm.

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